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What your parents obviously neglected

October 5, 2007

When I was a kid, one of the attitudes I absorbed from my dad was that dropping litter was a sign of slovenly and disreputable character.  Anyone who would just leave their trash lying around was acting like the world belonged to them when plainly, it doesn’t.

So, cigarette-butt tossing person, McDonald’s bag tossing person, Starbucks’ Frappuccino-cup tossing person, KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!!!  There’s a trash can right over there!!!

  1. October 5, 2007 at 15:10 | #1

    What kind of world do you want to live in?

  2. Ted
    October 5, 2007 at 17:10 | #2

    Ok—it’s nasty to litter, but what about the constant manicuring of the lawns? It’s the expected standard.


    That’s an interesting note:

    …a sign of slovenly and disreputable character

    I wonder how much waste we generate just from complying with cultural expectations.

  3. October 5, 2007 at 18:05 | #3

    It isn’t just nasty to litter, it is offensive.  It conveys the message; “I can’t be bothered to pick up my own trash, so I’ll just drop it on the sidewalk that we all share.”

    I should do a post about the ecological cost of lawn-care sometime.  I suspect that, strangely, many individuals are members of both sets – litterers and lawn-care nuts. 

    Fortunately my lawn shows no such compulsion on the part of its caretaker. Much to at least a couple of my neighbors’ dismay.

  4. Ted
    October 5, 2007 at 20:11 | #4

    It isn’t just nasty to litter, it is offensive.

    Now that’s interesting too. I suspect that this interpretation of “offense” goes back to dad as well. I wonder if you’d expand on why it’s offensive to you and where that comes from.

    I’m not trying to be weird, but I am interested why someone that drops litter is offensive. I can understand feeling annoyed—they drop it, it violates the aesthetics, it contaminates—so you’re forced to clean up after them. It’s annoying to do work others cause just to return equilibrium. Because things should be clean and neat.

    But offense goes deeper than annoyance and has roots.

  5. October 5, 2007 at 20:24 | #5

    I suspect that this interpretation of “offense” goes back to dad as well.

    Probably right.  But to expand on it, I’d have to understand it – let me get back to you on that.  All I can tell you is it pisses me off when I see someone flick that butt or drop that bag.

    More later, if it comes to me.

  6. October 5, 2007 at 21:38 | #6

    It offensive to me, because of what I said above. To me it just shows that people want to live in a shitty world. We can’t think about other people, only about ourselves.

  7. October 5, 2007 at 23:59 | #7

    Not speaking for DOF, but … it’s offensive because it offends me.  Get it?  Offense (in the personal sense, not the legal sense), is a feeling, a reaction.  It is based on a value that one holds.

    It is quite true that that when I feel offended it is about me … i.e., it is my reaction that is being show, not the absolute rightness/wrongness of the “offender”.

    But the mere fact that there are laws prohibiting littering means that it the value in question, i.e. caring for the environment and for respect of shared public space, is important to enough people to make littering … offensive.

  8. October 6, 2007 at 10:54 | #8

    I’ll second the offensive bit.

    And I’ll say that applies to anyone I see littering, esp. given the effort *I* take on occasion to carry my litter to the next trash can.

    While obviously there are people who toss all sorts of trash, the ones I see tossing things most often from cars in motion are smokers—which is doubly offensive because THEY HAVE A FREAKING ASH TRAY RIGHT THERE.  So it’s not just a matter of not being bothered, but of deliberately choosing to pollute the rest of the world rather than having to empty their ash tray when they get home.  RRRRGGGGGG.

    That goes right along with the people who leave a pile of trash next to their car when they leave a parking lot.  “The parking lot fairies will clean it up, I’m sure.”  When it’s dumping their ash tray into a little cairn of butts, it *really* torques me.

  9. October 6, 2007 at 15:32 | #9

    I have thought about this subject off and on for a long time. I agree with Weedram above. I suspect the bad habit is almost instictive, dating back to a time when littering a) involved organic matter like banana peels, apple cores and entrails, and b) was useful to warn other Cromagnons that “Here there be humans. This territory is marked.” I can think of no other reason to find so many empty beer cans and bottles strewn about my favorite woodlands. (sort of proxy urine for the olfactory challenged).

    My parents, the adults in charge of my Boy Scout troop, Earth Day, and yes, even that godawful “litterbug” song all had a part in my awareness. I grew up in the shadow of NYC in the 1960s and 1970s. There was a somewhat effective anti-litter campaign back then, I can remember two other good ads besides the famous “crying indian”. I would like to see more of that type of Public Service Announcements, except I guess we are too busy spending money blowing up Iraq.

  10. October 6, 2007 at 20:13 | #10

    While a rational argument can be made to tie evolution or deep-seated culture to such an act, I think it is more a matter of simple unawareness/disregard of the outside world (selfishness, to put another spin on it).  “I can toss this cigarette butt away because nobody I know is with me, or I’m driving my car and can’t see anyone’s reaction so I don’t need to worry about it.”  Perhaps that ability is biologically determined, too, but it’s something I’m not willing to excuse on that basis.

  11. October 6, 2007 at 20:45 | #11

    No excuse intended. Those who can’t transcend primative impulse … oh wait….

  12. October 6, 2007 at 20:51 | #12

    Primate, primitive. Webster was a fucktard.

  13. Ted
    October 11, 2007 at 09:12 | #13

    When I read this story, I thought about your post.

    Tell me about your inner scorecard. What’s on it?
    Basically, it’s being kept according to how I would feel about my dad scoring me, to get right down to it. I don’t think about it that way every day, but if you put me down on a couch—which nobody ever has—I think you would find that in the end I want that scorecard to be one that my dad would find acceptable.

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